John W. Henry. Joe Lewis. Mike Ashley. Three billionaires who own Premier League football clubs. Yet according to evidence from last week, three men would call by a food bank to fill up their weekly store.
At least in Henry’s case, he decided not to help himself, even though he was pushed out the door in the middle of a choir of disapproval.
But in seeking to take advantage of the government’s coronavirus job retention program, the respective owners of Liverpool, Spurs and Newcastle have shamefully exposed the opportunist and capitalist morals which, in all probability, made them very wealthy in the first place.
Few were surprised when Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley (left) announced that his club would be the first in the Premier League to release non-player staff.
Tottenham owner Joe Lewis (right) sits with president Daniel Levy – Spurs was the second of the Premier League clubs to announce the layoff of non-player staff
Liverpool and their owner John W Henry have reversed their decision to put their staff on leave
And why did they do it? Well, because they can. It’s an open goal, so to speak. Free money. And that’s their currency, literally.
Yes, it’s for others – those who need it most – but why look at a gift horse in the mouth? Better still get in the saddle and ride straight to the bank.
Ashley and Newcastle were the pioneers, Lewis and Spurs took the lead before Henry and Liverpool emerged in the last step – sorry, leave – to win first prize in this year’s Selfish Stakes race.
The aftermath that followed against the American businessman Henry and his Fenway Sports Group led them to reverse their intention – for which they deserve some credit – but the horse had fled when it came to damage to reputation .
Anfield’s doors are closed as the coronavirus pandemic stops football
Henry has the reigning European champions alongside his Fenway Sports Group partner Tom Werner (right). The group also owns the Boston Red Sox baseball team
WHAT DOES FURLOUGH MEAN?
When an employee is put on leave, he is temporarily put on leave and is not paid, although he remains on the payroll, which means he does not lose his job.
This could be due to the fact that there are no jobs for these employees, or that the company cannot afford to pay them, due to the effects of the coronavirus crisis.
In the UK, the government is proposing to pay 80% of the salary of an employee on leave, up to £ 2,500 per month, until he can return to work full time.
The coronavirus job retention program will last at least three months from March 1.
It was estimated that they would save £ 500,000 a month, after initially announcing that 200 non-players would be put on leave at taxpayer expense. Remember, for a moment, that Henry is worth around £ 1.9 billion and Liverpool announced £ 42 million in profits last month.
What about Spurs? Lewis is said to own a yacht worth more than £ 100 million. His personal fortune is around 4.3 billion pounds sterling and he lives in tax exile in the Bahamas. The Spurs will take approximately £ 1.4 million a month from the taxpayer to fund their employees on leave.
Doesn’t sit well, does it? Not when these owners can comfortably afford to support their own staff during this crisis and – in so doing – avoid plunging their already golden gloves into public funds.
Newcastle does a lot of the great work its charitable foundation does in the community, largely with food banks. However, the very values at the heart of these initiatives – goodwill and generosity towards others less fortunate – have been betrayed by the act of an owner in his own interest.
It should be noted that among the employees on leave from Newcastle were foundation workers who, the previous week, delivered much-needed supplies to these food banks, one of which is the largest in the United Kingdom.
Spurs owner Lewis has an estimated personal fortune of 4.3 billion pounds and lives in the Bahamas.
The £ 100 million + superyacht, Aviva, owned by Lewis docked on the Thames in London in 2018
The billionaire’s 322-foot yacht crosses Tower Bridge during a visit to London in July 2018
Ashley will argue that his club has much tighter margins than Liverpool, and he is right, but he still had a decision to make. At least in the short term, it could have financed the salaries of its non-player staff and thus protected the government fund intended to preserve the fabric of a society which is in danger of being torn apart.
But, as in the case of Henry and Lewis and other billionaire owners who are no doubt considering a similar course, the temptation and the window to exploit came.
Liverpool have felt the full force of their attempt to seize money this week. By asking us – the taxpayer – to help them, they miscalculated the cost of doing so at almost every level.
But perhaps the only line that many of these owners really care about is the one at the bottom of the balance sheet. In this regard, they will be better off at the end of the month. In the eyes of all of us, however, they are all poorer.
You could say financially healthy, but morally bankrupt.
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